Councillors split on decriminalising parking in Rother

A van parked illegally in Rye
A van parked illegally in Rye

Councillors were divided over whether or not to start the year-long process of decriminalising parking in Rother.

Rother District Council (RDC) overview and scrutiny committee members were split almost in half between those in favour and those calling for more evidence before rushing into a decision.

Officers from East Sussex County Council (ESCC) presented the case for civil parking enforcement (CPE) at the ‘fact-finding’ meeting, as committee chairman Ian Jenkins described it, on Monday (November 23).

Cllr Sue Prochak encouraged members to accept the need and get on with it as police refuse to enforce parking restrictions so someone needs to.

“I don’t think we need another meeting like this, we need to decide whether we would like to say to the cabinet, ‘yes let’s do this’ [or not],” she said.

But cllr Paul Osbourne said he would not want to pay to park in his nearest town and cllr Sally-Anne Hart said there are plenty of downsides to CPE that the presentation did not mention including the negative impact on business.

CPE is currently in place in Hastings, Eastbourne and Lewes district and ESCC would be the authority to apply to the government for it to be implemented in Rother.

Officers said it would take a year of studies, consultations and reports before the council took parking enforcement powers from Sussex Police.

Police and crime commissioner (PCC) Katy Bourne has said police will not catch illegally parked motorists and she came under a lot of criticism from cllrs.

RDC leader Carl Maynard said: “The PCC and senior police within Sussex have made it very clear that they want to wash their hand of parking.

“If we as a local authority said to our local residents, ‘ it is our responsibility to collect your refuse, but we’re not going to do it anymore because we can’t quite afford it.’

“We know the siren call that would come from residents to say we weren’t doing our job properly.”

Some cllrs were also concerned about officers’ suggestions the scheme would not make any money for two to three years and it would need to introduce permits to help protect residents from commuters parking outside of the town centres because of the charges.

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